am Chinese but I was born in Indonesia. I grew up in a small house. Downstairs
my parents manufactured noodles that we sold to both restaurants and the
My grandparents had moved to Indonesia from China in the
1930s to try to make a better life for our family. Being immigrants, we were limited to only the
ways of the native Indonesians. We were
not permitted to study our heritage our Chinese language at all.
Pontianak is a beautiful
tropical paradise where the equator passes right through the middle of
town. I spent my youth playing in the
lush jungles and on the pure white sandy beaches of the Java Sea
and the South Pacific. These colors and
surroundings would later become the inspiration for my work.
In elementary school one of the weekly lessons was painting. We were given books with blank paper and the
direction to paint whatever we wanted to.
Each week we would spend two hours in school or at home painting in our
books. The next day, the teacher would
collect our “artwork” and grade it.
At home we had a picture book about the circus with colorful images of
animals, trainers and circus clowns. I
found this fascinating and decided to use it as the subject of my art. I studied the shapes of the faces and
proportions of the bodies to use in my paintings. I ended up painting a picture of a seal with
his trainer balancing a ball on his nose.
When I took this in to school, the teacher wouldn’t believe that I had
painted it myself and insisted that I had someone do it for me! After that, I painted a picture in school for
him to prove that I could do it. The
teacher and school were impressed but I thought I only do this for fun so it’s
I worked diligently in my father’s business after school but when I
wasn’t studying or working, I was indulging my passion of painting. As I got older, my art began to evolve into a
pastime of cartoon illustrations. A
friend, who had seen my work, wrote a book after graduating school and asked me
to illustrate the cover for him. I was
happy to do it and began to do covers and illustrations for other books as
One of my older brothers went into the clothing manufacturing
business. He liked my use of color and
design and asked if he could use my artwork for his clothing. I began to produce designs for his clothing
and it got to the point where we would get requests for my work. We sold to stores who would buy 12 dozen at a
time, sell them all and come back for more!
I felt happy and honored that my work was liked so much and to think I
only did it for fun! It was then that I
knew that art would remain the great passion of my life.
In 1998 a crisis economy swept through Indonesia creating great
unrest. Many of the Chinese people were
the target of hatred by the native Indonesians.
They burned us out of our businesses and homes. They would throw rocks at us on the
street. Once, we had to hide our hide in
the attic of a building for 10 days until the rioting stopped. I made plans to leave Indonesia to
get away from the hatred and physical assaults.
I was fortunate enough to get out.
I found refuge in the great country of America. I now live in south Florida with my partner after traveling the
country for 7 years. It is here that I
am able to continue producing my artwork, which continues to evolve.
My sculptures reflect the simple pleasures that life affords us even
amid the hustle and bustle of our daily routines. I draw my inspiration from the present as
well as the past. The one constant is
time. It is precious and we must live in
each moment of it. While we shouldn’t
worry about each minute passing, we should be mindful of it and appreciate the
whole spectrum of experiences that come with it. Enjoy your journey!